Mouth Call Care
It’s a good thing these calls are inexpensive because they have a short lifespan. The most you can expect to get out of them is one hunting season. With fastidious care you might get two seasons. It might be worth it to try for two seasons if you have a call that works great for you but as a rule performance will deteriorate in the second season.
The enemies of the mouth call are sunlight, heat, bacteria and forgetting where you put the blasted thing when you took it out of your mouth. Sunlight, heat and bacteria degrade the latex reeds making them tear or loosen on the frame so they don’t sound right. Don’t keep you calls in the car once the weather warms up. A call left in a hot car for a few hours will begin to deteriorate.
A wrinkly reed is one that has gone slack on the frame and the call might as well be tossed. If you stretch the metal frame to tighten the reed it’s a temporary fix because the latex has lost its resilience and will slacken again shortly.
Bacteria discolour the reed and tape and make it a disgusting prospect to keep the thing your mouth. Some hunters have experienced a sore throat in turkey season that clears up when they toss an old, bacteria laden mouth call.
Bacteria grow in a moist environment so when hunting always allow the call to air dry before putting it back in a case. Put holes in your case if it has none to allow moisture to escape. After the hunt rinse the call with clean water and allow it to thoroughly dry. Separate all the reeds of a multi reed call with flat wooden or plastic toothpicks so the reeds don’t stick to each other. If all the reeds stick together it’s like one thick reed, which takes a lot of air to blow. It’s impossible to make a soft tree yelp or quiet purr with such a call. You won’t know what sound it’ll make until you blow it and you may blow your chance if you’re up tight to a roosted tom.
To kill bacteria on the call, rinse it briefly in a zero alcohol mouth wash at the end of the day and at the end of the season. If your mouthwash has alcohol, dilute it by half with water and then rinse the call well in clean water after the alcohol bath. Alcohol is a desiccant drying out most things it contacts so get it off the call soon after it’s done the job of killing bacteria.
If it will be a few days or weeks before you hunt again store your dry, clean calls in the fridge. Bacteria don’t flourish in the cold and there’s no sunlight there so it’s a perfect environment for them. Just warn others who use the fridge not to toss them out on you. A freezer is much drier than a fridge because it is opened less and may be too dry to preserve the latex reeds.
Every mouth call is unique. Even within the same brand and model of mouth call you will find variation in how the call works. So when you start over with a new call there is always a new learning cycle to get the feel of the specific call. The steps to protect you call are worth it so you don’t have to start over with a new one in the middle of a hunt or season.